By on June 17, 2018

As has been reported to death by every media outlet in history, including this one, Tesla needs to build more Model 3s to hit its production goals. Apparently, to reach its targets, the brand has resorted to assembling the vehicle in a series of tents that extend from the factory doors.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk tweeted a photo of the company’s very first Model 3 Dual Motor Performance being finished at the location Saturday afternoon. “Amazing work by Tesla team,” he said. “Built entire new general assembly line in 3 weeks [with] minimal resources. Love u guys so much! Pic of 1st Model 3 dual motor performance coming off the line…”

Since everyone beneath it is gainfully employed, this is probably the best tent city we’ve seen crop up in California in quite a while. But the outdoor line is a little confusing, considering the scope the company’s Fremont facility — and Tesla still hasn’t come close to matching the production volumes witnessed when the factory was known as the NUMMI joint between Toyota and General Motors.

Until now, nobody has assumed space was a major issue. But the automaker has expanded the site quite a bit over the years (despite only needing a fraction of the total space after purchasing it in 2010) and it intends to keep doing so. Tesla has said that it eventually intends to double the plant’s 5.3 million square feet of manufacturing and office space — which doesn’t include the similarly large Gigafactory in Nevada.

Whether or not this is a complete production line is unknown. Eagle-eyed dreamboat Bozi Tatarevic noted that the line didn’t appear to be automated and speculated that the automaker could simply finish all-wheel drive Model 3’s outside after the majority of the work had been completed inside. He also commented upon its shoddy construction.

However Musk referred to it as an “entirely new general assembly line,” meaning we should see Model 3 production come up quite a bit over the summer. If we don’t, then that will encourage future aspersions upon anything else the CEO has to say on the matter. For what it’s worth, aerial shots of the line do show it looking rather massive. Let’s just hope it’s well constructed.

 

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89 Comments on “Tesla Now Building Cars in Tents Outside the Factory Walls...”


  • avatar

    Q: Where do you want your car assembled?

    Me: Not a dusty tent.

  • avatar

    GM/Toyota pumped out HOW MANY Corollas/Prizms and Vibes from this plant…?

    Oh, yeah. Those are two manufacturers that know how to build cars…

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      C’mon, now, you’re stuck in the past. This is the FUTURE, where your car is built in a tent, it may decide to kill you on a whim, or maybe it’s factory built with terrible brakes due to a programming error.

      SO much better than buying a car from a dinosaur that, um, works properly.

      Oh, but wait, in 1923, a car company somewhere finished building a car outside at one point, so that means Tesla is right again.

    • 0 avatar

      “Those are two manufacturers that know how to build cars…”

      It was true only about Toyota. GM set up the whole joint enterprise to LEARN how to build cars from Toyota. Needless to say that GM refused to learn, ignoring the whole experience.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    The Tesla proving grounds have been relocated to a Walmart parking lot. Testing is only scheduled for “early Sunday mornings”.

    • 0 avatar
      CaddyDaddy

      Just like all the down and outs in the Bay Area. If you can’t afford to have permanent housing, just set up a tent. Again as already said how many Tacoma’s, Corollas, GM 1/2 ton pick ups, Cutlasses, Chevelles, Skylarks, LeMans we’re turned out of this plant by GM and Toyota??

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Where is your sense of adventure? If Lord Elon says cars should be built in tents, its time for “legacy” automakers to burn their factories. The Great One has spoken. Do not question Him.

  • avatar

    Those anchor bolts are coming via an over-the-air update.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    “I fully expect to meet quarterly production goals…weather permitting” – Elon

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Looks like the same sort of tent used for vip hospitality at major events.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    Get your popcorn. Enjoy the show !

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    The affordable* Tesla!

    *except we’re only building the expensive ones first, followed by even more expensive dual motor versions. Now assembled in a tent! Affordable! Watch out, GM/Toyota/Ford/etc!

  • avatar
    tylanner

    In the hall of legendary automobiles it is the design, popularity, exclusivity and performance of the car that will persist….not a photo of it being made.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      exclusivity = not meeting production targets? That makes sense.

      Toyota says it’ll built 150,000 Corollas, but only trickles out a few here and there. Suddenly, the Corolla becomes EXCLUSIVE!

  • avatar
    mcs

    Well, at least they can say they have the most in-tents manufacturing process in the auto business.

  • avatar

    As always you guys are ignorant. You were laughing when Musk said that Tesla will turn the whole industry on its head. And that is what exactly happened – all traditional automakers plan to electrify whole lineups and EU and CA is on its way to declare gas engines illegal.

    I guarantee you that within a year or so Porsche and Mercedes Benz will start assembling their cars and SUVs in hastily built assembly lines inside add-on tents.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      When they do that, FCA will be the quality leader!

      • 0 avatar

        You are right. Sergio as usual will be the last one to adapt new trends. They will refuse to build tents until the bitter end. EU, CA and China will make built-in-tent assembly the law of the land. And Sierra Club with Soros foundation, well you know what they are capable of.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @lorenzo: FCA is planning for EVs right across the line too.

        I don’t see how assembly in a building with PVC walls vs. sheet metal walls would negatively impact quality in an area that has a moderate climate. Now that Musk has done it, you can bet other manufacturers will try it. NFL teams have practice bubbles that are essentially inflated tents and they stay up for years and endure harsh climates. Actually, digging around a bit on the internet, Musk isn’t the first to use temporary buildings like this for production or workshops. There are companies that specialize in these structures.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Other manufacturers seem to be able to build their cars inside factories. They also are able to build as many cars as they say they will. They also build cars that don’t lull their drivers into thinking they can let the car drive itself, until it runs into a wall or a giant truck.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            It’s still a factory and it’s still indoors. It’s not a nylon tent from Walmart. Companies use temporary buildings for manufacturing. That’s nothing new. Not sure it’s been done in the auto industry, but it does happen in other sectors. As long as they don’t try to put a body shop inside one, its fine.

            Other car companies do in fact fail to build the number of cars they say will. Happens all the time. Where have you been? It just happens for the opposite reason. No one wants their crap and the factory shuts down or runs at a fraction of its capacity.

            I also see plenty of cars without autopilot that lull their drivers into a false sense of security. They think they can text without looking at the road. Happens all the time. People are stupid.

      • 0 avatar
        dantes_inferno

        >When they do that, FCA will be the quality leader!

        FCA quality = “Dodge testing. RAM it into production”

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      We are still laughing, more and more each day as Tesla struggles to do basic things, like actually build cars. .

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Perhaps this is the long-awaited equipment from Germany!

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Well, now I know why that tent we bought from Walmart last year hasn’t performed up to expectations. I forgot to install the concrete pad.

    Short memories here. North American Aviation final-assembled B25 and P51 Mustangs outside during WW2. In California no less. The B25 had its wings added outside to include the engines. Painting was performed outside as well. NAA didn’t bother with such frippery as a tent, because they hadn’t yet been invented, just as the hand-held calculator which replaced the slide rule hadn’t.

    Tolerances were like plus or minus an eighth – no wonder those old engines ran rough. It was after all, just the end of pre-history. Additive manufacturing meant emptying a bottle of Wynn’s Engine Oil Treatment, discovered in 1939 to “soften” metal, right into the oil tank.

    Tesla is obviously on a war footing.

    And Wynn’s have Electric Motor Treatment these days, made with graphene for those squeaky ball and roller shaft bearings, because Teflon is so yesterday.

  • avatar
    vvk

    > Tesla still hasn’t come close to matching the production volumes witnessed
    > when the factory was known as the NUMMI joint between Toyota and General Motors.

    Another lie. Lie after lie after lie.

    In fact, Tesla HAS come close. And very soon it will overtake NUMMI production levels. I am so sick of lies in the media!

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      In 2006, the NUMMI plant produced 428,632 vehicles. Tesla isn’t even touching half of that capacity. Maybe you should look at facts and data instead of your Elon Musk Bible.

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        According to wikipedia:

        Up to May 2010, NUMMI built an average of 6000 vehicles a week, or nearly eight million cars and trucks since opening in 1984. In 1997, NUMMI produced 357,809 cars and trucks, peaking at 428,633 units in 2006.

        Tesla may have already exceeded the average NUMMI production rate of 6000 per week. If not, it will soon. Even at peak production, NUMMI was assembling 8200 simple economy cars. Tesla has plans to match or exceed these volumes very soon. And they are doing much more than simple assembly and the cars are far more sophisticated than the cheap Toyotas previously produced.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Lies! Best to ignore facts and pretend things are true when they aren’t.

      The only thing Musk has turned on its ear are his unfulfilled promises, yet they’re still lapped up by people who think its all going to plan and somehow an unprofitable company that can’t accomplish basic goals is actually more successful than companies that do those things every single day. Making up excuses and pretending bad news is good news only works when you’re too drunk on the kool-aid to care if its true or not.

    • 0 avatar
      dantes_inferno

      >I am so sick of lies in the media!

      (vvk covers ears and repeats the words: NA NA NA NA I DON’T HEAR YOU!)

  • avatar

    Tesla is a cult phenomena. Musk fans will overlook quality issues and follow Musk in anything he does. Tesla is about Musk’s charisma more than the actual merits of the product.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Say what you might about China and Mexico but I’m pretty sure they build their cars indoors.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Fremont is relatively temperate, it may dip into the 40’s now and again in the winter, Elon can set up some salamanders or space heaters in the tent.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @sub: Those buildings/tents usually come with multiple big HVAC units that heat or cool them. I’ve been in a few including some that seem to be exactly the same as in Fremont. The largest I’ve been in, NFL practice bubbles, have no problem heating and cooling year round even in cold northern climates. With some temporary buildings, even though the walls are plastic they’re still insulated.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    British Leyland would be proud.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    Finally saw my first Model 3 in the wild up here in Ottawa. It’s an oddly proportioned little car.

    • 0 avatar
      dantes_inferno

      The Legion of Musketeers everywhere are gritting their teeth and saying to themselves: “Unbelievers! Lord Musk shall NEVER lead us astray! We’ll show them! ALL OF THEM!”

      • 0 avatar
        CobraJet

        I got behind a small Tesla the other day. It must have been a Model 3. I quickly noticed that the brake lights were very dim. At a distance they were hardly visible. Much like my 1940 Dodge I used to have.

        There is no way, if these lights were working as designed, that they meet Federal Motor Vehicle Standards. Wait and see how many of these get in high-speed rear-enders.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Elon has “camped out” in a sleeping bag on the Fremont Assembly factory floor, but will he now sleep in a real tent?

    Glamping with Elon.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Nissan, GM, and BMW don’t have to do this since they’re only building a fraction of the EVs Tesla is.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Tents for a circus. It seems appropriate.

    (In fairness…I’m sure this is some kind of final assembly point.)

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    It’s refreshing to see the founders of so many successful automotive and aerospace manufacturers commenting on this thread.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Based on those conveyor pics, it looks like Bozi Tatarevic has a “mole” inside the tent.
    Every factory has their share of screw-ups, but given the hubris of Musk, these are lots more fun to look at.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    After the tent it’s over to the shade tree for final inspection.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    There’s something heroic and romantic about a fledgling automaker struggling to survive, pulling out all the stops to get the job done. If they have a loyal following to help them along, more power to them. I think it’s one of the required ingredients to survive in this field, going back to the early 1900’s. I’m sure most know that there were literally hundreds of automakers over the past 120 years. Why does everyone hate to see a newcomer in this market grab a foothold?

    • 0 avatar

      I think it’s the way Tesla is trumpeting it. There’s a difference between quiet determination and showing tangible results, and flailing one’s arms around to feed a media frenzy.

      This company declared success before they started.

      • 0 avatar
        Stanley Steamer

        “flailing one’s arms around to feed a media frenzy” is pretty much required today to keep stock prices stable. The typical investor is too scared of, or does not understand, quiet determination.

        Flailing one’s arms around to feed a media frenzy works so well in this world that it can get you elected president.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Those who can, do. Those who cannot, criticize?

      It’s an easy trap to fall into, and the TTAC crowd has fallen hard. It’s one thing to discuss if Musk’s outsize public personality is counterproductive or to question the financial outlook or discuss QAQC problems, but the lazy snark from commenters who frankly aren’t qualified to provide it is another matter.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Oh puleze, get over it. The blind faith of the Church of Elon is another matter.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Now, you do realize that there are in fact two churches here – the Church of Elon and the Church of Anti-Elon – right?

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Redmond,
          I’m not a church member, so I’d love a more detailed explanation of exactly what I’m supposed to “get over”. The stunning gap in career accomplishment between Musk and Internet Joe Average? The amusing difference in effort and ambition required to launch a car company versus commenting about it online? The use of “Oh puleze” by an adult?

          Starry-eyed Musk Evangelists and know-it-all low-accomplishment critics, they’re two sides of the same coin.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @30 mile: Agreed on the trap. I wonder if Henry Ford or Ransom E. Olds would have been able to survive the scrutiny modern day manufacturers are subjected to. Ford killed two (IIRC) companies with his name on them before the Model T. I’m sure with today’s environment, Ol’ Henry would have been in jail after failure #1.

        I’m not really for or against Mr. Musk, but I do find the process around the cars fascinating in a way I don’t find with other cars. No one in the last 70 years has been able to start a new, homegrown car company in the US but so many people on here criticize endlessly.

        I’m not saying the guy should not go without scrutiny, but how many of us on this board really know what it takes to do what this guy has done? How many of us would like to be in his shoes?

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Thanks geozinger, you summed up my point well. There’s a broad middle ground here that doesn’t require Musk worship or demonization.

          “how many of us on this board really know what it takes to do what this guy has done?”

          This is a good point. I’m leery enough of criticizing the leadership of existing auto manufacturers who inherited a functional viable company. Starting one from scratch seems far more difficult, so until I’ve managed to do the same I’m going to keep me mouth shut.

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            I could understand the criticism were we talking about GM anywhere between the mid 1970’s and 2009, for example. (And honestly, GM has done a good job of putting out solid, if unexciting cars since the BK.)

            For the most part, Musk and Tesla have been pumping out cars with that are US assembled and with an American flavor that are desired all across the globe. You have to have a few miles on your chassis to realize that’s it’s been some people’s lifetimes since that was a phenomenon. Maybe not since the Airflow or 1950’s Cadillacs…

            Again, I don’t believe the guy should go without scrutiny. OTOH, one needs to keep the name in front of people and I think a person of Musk’s (or Ford’s, Nash’s or Olds’) ego has to have a little P.T. Barnum in him.

            Apple Macintosh fans would overlook any behavior that Jobs would display (I know, I used to be one) because the product had been that good. Jobs lost control of the company and the product never recovered (Desktop computers, not the iPhone. The iPhone is another thing entirely, but not the point here). If history repeats itself, I imagine the same thing will happen to Tesla.

            Maybe Musk will be smart enough to hand it over to some real whiz-kids once the company build-out is complete. Maybe not. But for now, I’m definitely interested in seeing what’s coming.

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    Geozinger above has a point if one were to IGNORE The outrageous expenditure of time and resources by Elon Muskrat on things that have nothing to do with batteries and automobiles. It goes without saying that it is right and just to lambast this jerk for not concentrating his resources on building vehicles which people have put deposits to purchase.

    And let’s not be kind to Muskrat for building poor quality products and passing them off as acceptable. Even the most koolaid drunk Tesla Model 3 owner will tell you how great their car is except for poor panel fits, things that don’t work, or how they fancy they are driving a BMW just because they paid BMW prices for a car that is no better than a Chevrolet Cruze. Seriously – and then these fools put ceramic coating on their paint thinking it will save it (anyone who has ever learned about paint knows the last thing you do to it is to seal it – paint must flash or you’ll dull the paint).

    I’m sorry, the time to give Muskrat a pass is over – he’s the one bragging and going off into different tangents without delivering on his promises.

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